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tv   [untitled]    April 16, 2013 5:00am-5:30am PDT

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>> good morning and welcome to the meeting of the san francisco ethics commission. we'll begin by taking the roll. commissioner studley is on her way and will be here. commissioner liu? >> here. >> commissioner renne? >> here. >> commissioner hayon? >> here. >> the first item on the agenda is public comment. appearing or not appearing on the agenda which is within the jurisdiction of the san francisco ethics commission. hi, my name is charles grishom. my concerns are regarding dennis j. herrera and the records i have requested from
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his office or so my communications that i had made to this commission and the response i received saying the commission would take no further action on it. and i was not fully heard and i was wondering if i could address that with the commission. so, my concern -- my request of dennis herrera's office was for for several things, but -- in fact, i can put it up here if you want or i can try to keep this really brief. the bottom line of my concern is that his statement of economic interests for many years are not legible and that when i made my request, and this is subsequent to the time that i received e-mails from ms. argumeda saying the commission would take no
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further action, subsequent to my having made a request of mr. herrera's office for statement of economic interest and other documents, i did receive -- so, i was in communication with jack fong. i made it as an immediate disclosure request. mr. song said that it was potentially -- i think he called it voluminous and burdensome. ~ anyway, it was pushed out to the regular 10-day deadline, which was fine also. none of this is too pressing. forgive me, this is my first foray into communicating directly with city government. so, i mean, this is one example. i don't know if you can see this or if you want to see it, but you know, these are his statements of economic interest. and that's the cover page.
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so, my initial complaint about these and [speaker not understood] to mr. song is they're really not legible. i don't think they serve the purpose for which they were intended if you can't read them. if i can get to a page where -- this is some serious chicken scratch here, in my humble opinion. and, so, in my response to mr. song, i had requested that i receive this information in a legible form. and, so, that's that. i can't read these. so, and that's true for most of these until, i think, in the most recent filing or two they were done type graphically so they are legible. and, again, that was -- that was in my communication with mr. song. i requested mr. herrera's statement of economic interest
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-- statements of economic interest for all years he's been in office as city attorney and i requested them in a legible form. i didn't get that. >> sir, this is public comment on granted matters not appearing on our agenda. but you're limited to three minutes. that second buzz was indication that your time is up. okay. >> i'll give you another 30 seconds if there is anything else you want to wrap up with. well, i'd like to know if there is a further way i can address this with the commission. this was also filed with -- on the last day of the deadline for mr. herrera's submission, response to my request. and these are amendments disclosing gifts from prior years that had not been disclosed at the time or actually income, excuse me, not gifts. income. and, again, difficult to read,
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not properly signed here, not signed at all on the verification area. and, so, i wonder if the commission could give me a resource or at least, you know, open up the dialogue with me about these. this is part of my concerns about mr. herrera and his conduct and office of the city attorney of san francisco. thank you. >> mr. sin croy, what is our typical policy? >> [speaker not understood]. i didn't hear that. >> mr. sincroy will follow-up with you. thank you. >> question? >> do we require when these forms are turned in that they be legible? >> no specific requirement in state law to that effect. >> as a practical matter, i suspect that we generally presume that whoever is putting information on these forms will put it in a legible format,
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however. the next item on the agenda is discussion and possible action on the selection of random audits of 2012 committees. mr. sinclair, do you want to introduce this matter? >> every year at this time staff determines, based on available resources, how many nonpublic finance political committees in san francisco we have the ability to audit. the number this year is 7. the memo breaks down how many in each of the three categories that we have determined that we will choose, three categories being committees who spent between 10,000 and 50,000. second category, 50,000 to 100,000. the third category, above 100,000. so, out of -- in the first category, out of 36 committees,
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we will audit three. second committee out of 12 we will audit 1. third category out of 23, we will audit 3 for a total of 7. so, the process we have today is to have three drawings, random drawings which includes the names of all committees in each of those categories, choosing the number that i just announced out of them to face an audit. and staff is prepared to carry out that exercise. >> okay. comments, questions from the commissioners? i have a question about not so much -- i guess in some way it's related to 2012, but more about why we still have audits remaining to be completed from 2010 and 2011. can you speak a little bit more
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about why we have that backlog? >> there was a long period in that time period where we had two vacancies in the audit staff. so, it's just been sometime. now we do have a full complement, there are four auditors, but they have not been able to catch up to that backlog that accumulated when we had the vacancies. when we were able to bring on new auditors, one didn't last very long. so, there wasn't really work product developed for while that person was here. and then when the new ones come on, the training curve is a little tough because our auditors are doing a very unique type of work that's not really comparable to regular audit work that auditors would do or that accountants might find. it's not straight figures. they really have to be
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cognizant not only of the numbers, but of all the rules that committees have to follow. as the commission knows, rules are somewhat complicated so, there are factors at work here. it's not just pure addition, subtraction, and other manipulation of numbers. they have to be -- they have to not only look at contributions coming in, they have to determine whether those contributions are legitimate. so, it's not, again, i'm going to use the word straight numbers. it's factoring in political considerations. >> and i'd also like to add that the 2011 mayoral public financing program definitely was involved a lot of staff time and work. the public finance claims that we received from mayoral candidates were voluminous and with the two auditors that we had required a lot of time. so, basically the audits were put on hold at that time. >> takes about six weeks to audit a supervisorial campaign.
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the mayoral campaign is exponentially longer because the set of records is much bigger. and participation in the last mayoral program was fairly robust. so, there are a number of candidates to be audited. >> commissioner renne. >> procedurally, are we fully staffed now with auditors? >> with auditors, yes. >> and in terms of how the work is difficult -- divided, does each auditor have a certain number of cases, or do all of the auditors work on a case jointly? ~ >> you can't do a single audit at a time because it's a start and stop procedure. sometimes you need additional records and things. so, they all have several cases assigned to them at once. and they sort of progress in unison. >> it's not a team effort per se? >> no, each -- two people don't work on a single audit normally. additionally, the audit staff
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runs the public finance program. so, in each year that we have an election, toward the middle to the end of the summer when the election kicks off in earnest, they virtually stop doing audits and work almost completely on the public financing program, which is sort of an auditing process in itself. because with public finance candidates, you're not just looking at contributions after the fact, you're also monitoring all the ones that are coming in. so, it's almost like a double audit because, of course, it's public money so we treat it very carefully. and, to be honest, although we have four auditors and they're all excellent people, we can really use five, perhaps even six, you know. some day, really, we ought to be able to audit all committees and not just public finance committees and a handful of others. we just don't have any other resources to do that. >> and in addition to what the what director sinclair said, during the election season, the
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auditors very closely review notifications from candidates as to which threshold they're at in terms of fund-raising and spending. and they also review third-party spending and track that. and pretty much post this information daily to our update information on our website daily, and determine whether their ceilings need to be raised. also, the auditors administer other programs in the office. for example, you know, one auditor is currently administering the statement of economic interest program. another auditor is now going to be responsible for the campaign consultant program. another one administers the lobbyist program. and one of our auditors serves as our budget officer. >> when he can we expect the 2010 audits to be completed? >> oh, within the next couple of months. >> okay. what about for 2011?
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>> the 2011 ones, we're hoping that we can finish them by the end of the calendar year, but possibly by the end of the next fiscal year. >> so, we are talking the middle of 2014? >> correct. >> okay. any other questions from the commissioners? has the commission -- has the staff considered less detailed audits of more campaigns? one concern i have is that -- and i know we've been doing this for awhile and we've been constrained by our resources, but we do audit a pretty small percentage and i wonder whether
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our mission would be -- we'd be able to fulfill our mission better if we did less detailed audits of more campaigns. and wonder what consideration the staff has given to that. ~ >> i don't think we really have. we always look upon audits as one of our best tools to find violations of rules by candidates and committees and just using a thorough process. kind of eliminates the ability to juggle books, if you will. and if, if that's something you want us to take a look at and see what potential is there, we'd certainly be willing to do it, but it's not something we've considered before. >> currently, we do something similar to that, what we call delinquency canvases. so, for example, if we might compare all the third-party disclosure forms to one another
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to see whether all the required filings were turned in, whether there was any filings that were missing or not secondly. for example, we compare the information that's reported on the form 460 to determine whether candidates filed other forms in a timely manner and whether the information that they disclosed on the other forms was correct. so, for example, during the election candidates are required to provide notification to us to let us know when they reach certain thresholds, $5,000, 100,000, and then every 10,000 thereafter for supervisorial candidates. and when they're filing these forms during the heat of the election, they're pretty much putting down -- they're telling us the date on which they reach the threshold. after the election, the auditors will go to their candidates' other report that are filed to determine whether
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those dates were, in fact, correct. >> in addition to the audit work -- >> yes, in addition to the audit work. >> commissioner -- >> i'm sorry. >> just a question about what you said about the 2010-2011 audit dates, what does that mean for the 2012 audits? are you commencing those he concurrently or do they have to wait until you complete 2010 and 2011? >> we will wait until we finish 2010 and 2011. >> so, basically we won't get around to the 2012 audits until sometime next year. >> correct. >> commissioner suddenly. >> i was just interested in ms. scheidt's comment about the -- i forget your term for these cross-checks. >> can yves. >> do you view those as a way
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to spot-check or identify where there might be risk factors to warrant looking further into a campaign? is that what the purpose of that review is? ~ canvas >> yes. >> so, that may be some -- your sense is that's something like, what chair hur was talking about as a way to touch more than just a fully audited campaigns, that's -- >> i think it's an interesting idea what the balance is between thoroughness and ~ frequency, likelihood of audits. mr. sinclair, i wonder if that's something where you know or can find out what other jurisdictions do, whether they do -- have the same practice that we do. that may be something you've already looked at and you and ms. scheidt are well aware of. but if you haven't had that opportunity, it might be something to find out how they balance either spot-checks or
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across the board matters or whether this practice is taken together with the full scale audits is a good way for people to feel that they are either need to be complete and the problems would be likely to be identified. >> it would, we're willing to do that. i think the audit process themselves, because we're all following state law, are probably substantially similar, but these other processes can seek guidance from other jurisdictions and see how they're handling them. >> one example -- one methodology i can think of is to look at twice the number of audits for one week or twice the number of campaigns for a week and then kind of based on that analysis, make a determination of which campaign to do a full audit on.
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i know that has probably unintended consequences and may lead to a suggestion of choosing which campaigns to audit rather than doing it randomly. but i would ask the commission staff to try to think creatively about how we can touch more campaigns so that we can make sure the public has confidence that we're fulfilling our mission. >> i would just add that in addition to the random audits, whenever we see a red flag on a campaign, we generally would target them for audit as well above and beyond. so, we kind of have to shoe horn them in, but there have been a number of occasions when not through an audit and not a public finance campaign, but just because there are certain signs that just obviate themselves that you have to look more closely. and those can trigger an audit if they're serious enough. >> okay. public comment? >> can i make one comment?
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i just want to say my comments were in the context of being impressed at the list of additional duties, the number of audits. and while i share that sense of eagerness to move through them and not have a backlog that's as aged, i don't want to leave an impression other than i'm impressed with the quality of work the team does and appreciate the complexity of all of this activity. >> thank you for that. >> agree. >> i would second that. if anything, in terms of what commissioner hur also said, if we could find ways in which to simplify the process to make it easier for staff as well, but to also find the results that we're looking for. i mean, that's the thing. i know that there is state law with which we have to comply, but given our technological age, i'd like to think that
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there might be some sorts of procedural algorithms that could make it easier to do. i mean, i'm sure we don't have the money to have some very, very sophisticated computer form of auditing, but maybe that's something in the future. i don't know. >> it would be interesting, but again, training a computer to recognize some things that are just, you know, a human eye of knowledge of campaign finance law requires, that's not something we've seen yet, but obviously the commission would like for us to do this with all good wishes for, you know, the work of the staff. we'll also take a look at what the law absolutely requires and see if there's any adjustments that need to be made there. we kind of anticipate that this can be a lengthy process. campaigns are taught that they are required to keep their records for a minimum of four years, you know, against such a
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time. we've also adjusted some policies, for example, we used to audit the people who won elections first. but the reality is we know what -- where they're going to be the next four years. we do them last now. people that don't win elections sometimes would really like to forget the experience. so, we kind of have to get to them as quickly as we can. ~ >> that's a very interesting and complicated question because the people who win elections are carrying out the public trust. and if they have violated rules in the course of the campaign, then we might be more troubled if they were in office with access to other resources and responses to other kinds of reporting whereas people who didn't win, right, may disappear, but they're also not -- they don't have their hand on the tiller, so to speak. >> right. good point.
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>> i have a question. mr. sinclair, when you were saying that when you see red flags that triggers an audit, are you saying at the time, like when you see a red flag, then staff will -- the auditor will take that on as a new audit at the time? or it's sort of tabled for later? [speaker not understood]? >> when we determine to do a targeted audit, you know, for example, on form 460s, we'll notice a sizeable loan or something like that. so, we just check that against the rules. if somebody raised a great deal of money in a single day and they didn't have a fund-raiser that day, you know, if you get a lot of contributions from people who don't normally have the resources, something like that, we put it in the hopper, if you will. it doesn't necessarily happen right away, but we would assess the risk. is this candidate going to be around or is this someone likely to fall off the radar? you know, in term of the
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urgency of the offenses, you know. certainly somebody that has red flags that wins an election, you know, the point that vice-chair studley made, we would hop on those right away. >> okay, right. >> but if it's somebody that came in ninth, it's not as urgent depending on what the staff's priorities are. >> okay, thank you for the clarification. >> we do assess the level of public harm when we make those determinations. >> and what happens if you get a public or somebody who is -- claims that there's been a violation? does that get focused on immediately? >> those are -- normally would be treated as a staff initiated complaint. and again, assess the level of public harm and that would give us sort of the level of urgency that the staff would pursue it. the investigation staff is allegation weighing their caseload of what they're doing and what maybe should be prioritized and those
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priorities do shift occasionally based on, you know, what we determine is the best public interest. >> public comment? >> we just have to do the drawing. >> let's dot drawing of the 7. >> the way we normally select the committees for audit is that we invite a member of the public to help us so that we can assure that the process is totally transparent and random. >> is there a volunteer?
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>> thank you for volunteering. what we're going to ask you to do is read the names off the pieces of paper that we're going to hand to you so that everybody else in the room can follow the list that we've prepared. >> go down the stack and read them? >> yes. and the deputy director ing will do is fold them and put them into the box. we'll ask you to close your eyes and select a specific number of committee from each batch. [speaker not understood] high tower committee, yes on b. jill wins for school board 2012.
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leon chow for district 11 supervisor 2012. sandra lee, fewer, for board of education 2012. bacharach for s.f. community college board 2012. community to elect shemon walton for s.f. board of education 2012. popek for school board 2012. committee to elect gladys soto for san francisco school board 2012. bob squary for district 7 supervisor, 2012. steve young for college board 2012. sam rodriguez for s.f. scoreboard 2012. reelect rachel norton for board of education 2012. raphael [speaker not understood] for san francisco community college district board 2012.
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san francisco rising action fund committee, national union of health care workers candidate committee for [speaker not understood] union democracy. fdr democratic club san francisco. district 11 democratic club. african-american democratic club. richmond district democratic club. harvey milk lgbt democratic club pack. municipal executives association of san francisco pack. one california for all leland yee ballot measure committee. san francisco building and construction trades council political organization of workers for employee rights, power pack. united here local 2 pack. coleman action fund for children committee. this land is your land. elect women 2012 committee to
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support anderson [speaker not understood] de jesus [speaker not understood] young, katz, caught, levy ton, [speaker not understood], rosenthal and [speaker not understood] san francisco democratic central county committee. building owners and managers association of san francisco political action committee ballot issues a.k.a. bomas.f. pack ballot issues. [speaker not understood] san francisco p-a-c. good government alliance committee. a new san francisco majority in support of democratic county central committee 2012 of john avalos, cat anderson, david campos, david chiu, see attachment a for [speaker not understood] candidate. san francisco police officers association issues p-a-c. teachers, nurses and neighbors